24 Hours For Marriage Equality

I want to write a little bit about what the roller-coaster 24 hours of the day of decision were like here in San Francisco, but it’s taken awhile for me to pull my thoughts together. But I owe this to each of you, so here are my thoughts on supporting and valuing marriage as a civil right:The roller-coaster started on Monday night we went to a prayer service at Grace Cathedral, where it was my privilege to pray for marriage equality in the same room where my parents were married 35 years ago. We prayed, we cried, and we sang. A gay couple spoke about how one of them has a degenerative disability, and because he is not covered through his husband’s benefits he is slowly loosing the ability to walk. They talked about how, for them, marriage is not a illusive term, how the struggle for civil rights is his struggle for life, and how they don’t have time to wait. There were about 40 clergy present from a multitude of faiths, and most of them pledged that, should the worst happen, they would get arrested in peaceful civil disobedience the next day. Our rabbi was among them.Tuesday morning broke with grim news. I was shocked how painful it was, even though the decision was exactly what we expected. Proposition 8 was upheld, same-sex marriage was ruled illegal in California, but the 18,000 marriages performed over this spring and summer were allowed to stand. I was surprised to feel like my heart had been ripped out of my mouth, as I pondered all our friends and loved ones who no longer had the same basic civil rights that we are exercising this summer. The day wore on, and we received word that both our rabbi and our rabbinic intern had been arrested as part of a group of clergy that had committed peaceful civil disobedience. We were both grateful and worried at the same time.After work, we walked to San Francisco’s city hall, to be with the community in protest. It was there that the mood of the day started to change for me. We were sad, we were angry, but we were also happy to all be together. We were energized to know that the worst had happened, and we were still here, we were ready to fight. We marched and then headed to our synagogue to participate in a service of hope and healing. We sang a shehecheyanu blessing for our Rabbi in honor of her first arrest. We found out that the SFPD had done us proud, and were kind with each member of the clergy they arrested, with each protester. We talked about the pain of the day, we talked about the future, we talked about our gratitude for our community that is leading the struggle.

On Monday night we sang a song with the lyrics, “I will testify to love,” and that is a job for each of us. It is both a great privilege and a huge responsibility to be getting married in the middle of this fight for civil rights, this fight for marriage. We are doubly blessed to be married by someone who was arrested this week as she prayed peacefully for human rights. I will keep testifying to honoring the love in each of our hearts here and in my everyday life, I invite each of you to do the same. To those of you who were denied marriage rights on Tuesday, I hold you in my heart. We will be here together when Proposition 8 is overturned, once and for all.

Finally, in that spirit, I have to share the PSA that our friends and wedding graduates Patty and Christina are in:

First two pictures from the SF Gate, third courtesy of our temple

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  • Desaray

    thanks, meg.

  • For the life of me, I will never understand WHY so many people are against gay marriage. Their lives will go on just the same whether gay people get married or not! But for those gay people, it’s a HUGE, huge thing that a group of bigoted people are refusing to let happen despite the fact that it will never affect them in any way.

    It’s crazy. Why don’t we spend our time trying to stop CRIMES – murder, rape, drugs; all the things that bring a society down? How do love and happiness and equal rights for all bring a society down? Oh wait, they don’t.

    Thanks for participating, Meg.

  • Oh wow, this rules: “We sang a shehecheyanu blessing for our Rabbi in honor of her first arrest.”

    Let me just say, as the outsider looking in to all of this–you guys are amazing. The news was depressing as shit and we were furious. Then I sat down and read the decision and it was totally unjustified and I was even more furious. But the thing that gets to me the most about all of this is how organized the movement is right now. It is amazing and inspiring. I don’t think that the US has seen this solid and well-organized a protest movement in a long time, and you guys seriously rule. And you’re going to win.

  • Anonymous

    I live smack in the middle of the type of place where gay marriage would be thought a tool of the devil.

    This is Bible Belt Central and I don’t think anyone in S.F. could understand the depths of bigotry when it comes to gays.

    As long as a lot of people belong to fundamentalist churches that take every word in the bible as the literal word of God, this is going to be an uphill battle.

    Even the idea that much that is in the bible merely reflects the time and place where it was written, is an idea that these people can’t wrap their heads around.

    But then many of these people don’t even “believe” in evolution either and you can pick up our small town newspapers and even find editorials against evolution.

    Until the average American has a better education, I don’t think this country is going to progress.

  • Thank you, Meg. I was expecting this decision but, like you, was surprised by how sad and angry it still made me.

    Civil rights are not up for a vote.

  • It’s so depressing just how backwards the US really is. It’s that cursed puritan streak that screams everything your neighbor does is your buisness and it’s your job to “save” them.

    But all the bigots are fighting a losing fight. The stupid NOM and the like just have no real arguements as most of the country is realizing (isn’t it something like over the majority are for gay marriage?). The hard part is getting the administration to change their deep seated prejudices.

    I suppose I hold out hope because even though I come from one of the more “Red/conservative” states most of my friends and generation I know believe that everyone deserves civil rights.

    Good luck with the fight.

  • Great post. I too felt sad but mostly angry.

    It will be a long, difficult battle with probably many setbacks but it WILL eventually happen. Blatant discrimination and bigotry can never win in the end. I’m very confident about that.

  • Hi Meg, can you share the lyrics of the testify for loves song? Is it something that would make a good reading as well?

  • elizabeth

    Absolutely beatifully written. Thank you.

  • Thank you for this. On my own wedding blog, I’ve been struggling with wanting to call the wedding off and use my wedding budget to support the cause.


    I’m still not sure what justice calls for me to do… but it means a lot to see other women with weddings writing about it.

  • Meg

    Actually I really do understand. I come from the part of California that’s really part of the bible belt. I grew up with friends trying to kill themselves as they came out as gay, because they were so convinced that they were going to burn in hell, and knew their families now hated them. THAT’S why this fight is so important to me, and why as a straight woman I align myself with the LGBTQ community so I can commit myself to the struggle. Of course it’s going to be an uphill battle (and that is putting it mildly). But we’re fighting not just for rights but for lives – the lives of gay men not covered by their partners health insurance, and the lives of gay teens committing suicide at a extreamly high rate. So knowing lives are on the line, we have to keep fighting no matter what it takes.


    PS Tafe, if you google the song, you’ll hit on the lyrics.

  • Meg

    Your wedding can be part of the struggle!


  • <3

  • Thank you Meg. That was the first post on weddings to make me tear up.

  • Meg’s Mom

    I was fortunate, and privileged, to come of age during the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam war. They shaped both my priorities and my values. For both, I had the additional advantage of being able to view them from more than one perspective.

    I grew up in the army, and we lived on Okinawa in the late sixties. I graduated from high school there, only several hundred miles from Viet Nam. Many people
    I knew were involved in the fighting in Viet Nam in one way or another. They were people that I loved and respected. Then I came back to the states to huge protest marches, and saw the war from a different perspective.

    Before we left for Okinawa, there had been both riots and civil disobedience over civil rights. I was a junior in high school when Martin Luther King was asasinated. It felt both immediate for the time, and distant because I was so far away.

    Back in the states, shortly before our wedding, I was attending a service in Grace Cathedral. I noticed a couple with their child walking up to receive communion. They were notable because the mother was white and the father was black. I was sad that the sight was so uncommon. Now interracial marriage is not only accepted, it’s common, at lease on the coasts.

    It was an incredibly challenging and exciting time to come of age. I promised myself that I and my husband would raise our children to both respect and fight for civil rights. (And yes, both our girls make us incredibly proud!)

    While we still have a ways to go with ethnic equality in subtle discrimination, we have also come far. While changing people’s attitudes takes longer, overt discrimination based on ethnicity is illegal. Likewise,I know that we will, indeed, win this civil rights fight for marriage equality, and this form of discrimination will also become illegal. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know that it will be.

  • Meg, you (and your mother, who just left a beautiful post) have really captured the side of the struggle from the straight person’s perspective. I find it hard sometimes to express my arguments and my desire for marriage equality to straight people who don’t believe in it…they ask me why I even care. This post made me cry, but there is no time for that. Coming from a town that can barely accept racial and religious differences, I know that many people need the education to see that ALL people are created equal. The anti-same-sex marriage crowd reminds me of a quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm…”All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” We have a long struggle ahead…

  • Lori

    Meg’s Mom,

    I wonder if you knew my aunt and uncle?! He was stationed in Okinawa in the 1960’s also.

    Last name of Lewis.

    Small world.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you, Meg.
    I love reading this blog because of posts like this. I also love that your mom is a part of it.

    This is what marriage is about, love and family. Not hate and prejudice.

  • Anonymous

    I was listening to a radio show where they said there was a lot of disinformation being put out there prior to the vote.

    They said that one christian group said that a classroom was “forced” to witness a gay marriage, when actually it was a teacher who had gotten permission from all the parents that the children could come to her wedding.

    Some people even thought that churches would be forced to recognize gay marriage. That is evidence of the lack of education on this issue and in general.

    As far as the law is concerned, marriage is a civil issue and individual churches have always had the right to marry or refuse to marry anyone, including divorced members. Those churches can still choose to marry gays or not.

    I wonder how a Christian group can “lie for God” by saying those children were “forced” to witness a gay marriage?

  • This was a beautiful post and a really moving PSA. I think a lot of people (myself included) are realizing that complacency isn’t going to cut it – as citizens concerned about equal rights and justice we need to find ways to ACT in support of our beliefs. Before the election, I hung my no on 8 signs and slapped on a bumper sticker and just sneered whenever I saw “yes on 8” signs (and there were PLENTY of those here in orange county). It’s time for more. This is too important.

  • Thanks so much for this post, Meg. I was really upset on Monday, and immediately donated to MassEquality and started writing my wedding program to explain why this is so important to me. It is a hard thing to explain to some people, as a straight ally- not everyone gets that, so thanks for discussing it.

    Your Rabbi sounds incredible- you’re so lucky to have her in your community!

  • Thanks Meg (and Meg’s mom) ~ for sharing your heartfelt perspective and continuing to lend your voice to this important issue.

  • Thank you.

  • Your post gave me chills, especially seeing the Judaism tie-in. Love it. Wish I could’ve been there to protest. Don’t know if you’ve seen this or if it interests you: my friend Sara designed a marriage equality blog sidebar badge thingie: http://tinyurl.com/r8lunn

  • Cate Subrosa

    Excellent post, Meg, or perhaps I should say “excellent day.” You’re an inspiration, keeping your spirits up, keeping fighting against an attitude so incomprehensible.

    The more I read about this issue, the more personally I take it. As an atheist, I consider my own marriage to be nothing more than a civil partnership (which is what we call gay marriages here in UK, where they are legal) but no less meaningful for that. Therefore, my marriage is not just equal but identical in my mind to that of someone who has chosen to marry another person of the same sex.

    So I’m grateful that both are recognised here in UK. And I’m hopeful that in time both will be recognised where you are too. In the meantime, I feel compelled to thank you for keeping fighting, because it feels like you’re fighting for my (atheist, civil) marriage too (and it isn’t too difficult to remember/imagine a time where that wouldn’t be recognised either).

  • April

    Meg, reading your experience brought tears to my eyes. Bless you for your participation in your community and for writing this inspirational post today.

    We’ll keep on keepin’ on until one by one, EVERY state in this nation finally gets on-board and makes marriage equal for ALL.

  • You know, I’m new to your blog, just found it through A.Mountain.Bride. but what you wrote really touched me. I’m from California’s bay area and voted no on 8. Its sad to think that in one of the states considered the most progressive and diverse in the U.S. that we are so narrow-minded. Thanks for posting.

  • My wedding is a way off (2011), but the grim reality is that the state I’m from (GA) will most likely not come to its senses by the time that I get married. I want my wedding to honor the struggles that my brothers and sisters are going through to have their love recognized…but I don’t know how. How would you honor the desire for equal rights in your wedding? What words would you use? Which charities would you encourage donations to?

  • I don’t know whether you would have seen this article in the SF Chronicle. I don’t know that I share the author’s belief that the next generation is already all convinced of the inevitability and justice of allowing same-sex marriage (I’ve seen my share of bigotry, ignorance, careless prejudice, and disinformation amongst some of the students I’ve come into contact with here in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal), but it’s nice to think that slowly, inevitably, attitudes are changing. It’s so important to keep reiterating that this is a civil rights issue, that the fear spread by anti-gay-rights groups is woefully misinformed and misleading, that everyone has the right to love and be loved. Thanks for the post, and keep your chins up in California (and elsewhere in the US). I like to believe that bigger hearts and clearer minds will eventually prevail.

  • Meg

    Hey Anne-
    I did a post about that here: http://www.apracticalwedding.com/2009/04/honoring-marraige-equality-in-your.html

    Warning: the comments are a bit of a mixed bag, so read with care.


  • thanks, meg.

  • Meg,

    Thanks! I had completely forgotten about that post.


  • Amazing post, Meg. Thanks for sharing what it was like that day in the city. I had a friend come out to me that very day, and it broke my heart.

    We’re getting married in SF, and really want to include something in our ceremony to voice our support. Which should be interesting, since I have family members who voted for the awful thing, but we’re going to find a way to respectfully make a statement.

    Kudos to your rabbi, and to the SFPD for treating her well.

  • I’m a bit behind on my blog reading, but I loved this post. I wrote a post about the same topic, with the same sentiment. It’s really only a matter of time…

  • Meg,

    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and have been going through the archives ever since. I’ve been blown away many times already, but just had to comment on this particular post.

    My lady and I have really been struggling with some of the ignorant and hurtful reactions to our engagement, which occurred about a month ago. Of course, marriage (in)equality has been an issue for us for far longer than that. I was glued to my TV and getting rowdy in as many ways as I could during the Prop 8 proceedings and Day-of-Decision, and it sucked. I screamed and cried and felt like no one around me, even in my liberal oasis town in Michigan, understood why it was so personal and so painful. Reading this post brought back all of that pain, but it has been such a gift to read about it from someone who “gets it”. Your words pay tribute to the gravity of these days and these decisions, and you need to know that those words matter. What you do here really matters. I am so grateful.